Every Saturday, a team of volunteers helps residents with lawn work and home repairs while also providing more than 60,000 meals a month.
LEALMAN — When Lealman resident Sabrina Simmons answered an unexpected knock on her door three years ago, she had no idea how much her life would change. A recent transplant from New York City, Simmons and her infant daughter moved to Florida to help care for her ailing mother.
As a single mother in a new city, making ends meet was a struggle. Simmons found herself living in a cramped efficiency apartment with only a futon and an old television set while earning a paycheck that barely covered the cost to get to and from work let alone pay for daycare.
When she thought she was beginning to make progress, a vindictive boss blocked her from a much-needed promotion and a hiccup at her bank almost left her homeless.
“I felt ashamed for not being able to provide for my daughter and do the things you know you should to care for your family,” she said.
When Simmons thought she had reached her breaking point, the Florida Dream Center came knocking.
“They just came to my door one day offering to help with yard work, food and even furniture,” Simmons recalled. “I was very stressed at the time, and it was like a sign from God.”
Within a week, the Florida Dream Center ensured Simmons had food, diapers and clothes for her daughter. And the Dream Center continued to regularly visit Simmons for the next three years ensuring she had the support she needed to remain afloat.
“Everything we needed in our house, they gave it to us,” said Simmons. “Every dish in my house, even the furniture was given to me by them.”
With the Dream Center’s continued support and encouragement, Simmons was able to secure the funding needed to renew her CNA license, making her eligible for even better-paying job opportunities. She also eventually saved up enough to be able to afford her first car and a more spacious home.
On Saturday, Sept. 22, the Florida Dream Center will host a masquerade ball at the Manhattan Casino. All proceeds from this black-tie affair will go to benefit the work of the Florida Dream Center.
“Sabrina’s happy ending has not been without bumps in the road,” said Zelda O’Connell, director of programs at the Florida Dream Center. “Her persistence has been extraordinary and very much been the driver of her success. We know everyone needs a helping hand from time to time, and we’re grateful to be able to support and empower our neighbors in Lealman and beyond.”
The Florida Dream Center’s Adopt-a-Block program provides a critical safety net to dozens of Lealman residents like Simmons. Every Saturday, a team of volunteers helps residents with lawn work and home repairs while also providing more than 60,000 meals a month.
Florida Dream Center Masquerade Ball
What: Florida Dream Center Masquerade Ball
When: Saturday, Sept. 22 from 6-10 p.m.
Where: Manhattan Casino, 642 22nd St S, St. Petersburg
On Saturday, Sept. 22, the Florida Dream Center will host a masquerade ball at the Manhattan Casino. Renowned Chef Gary Morgan, formerly of the world- famous Tavern on the Green restaurant, will cater the event with entertainment provided by the Bayou Dance Club.
All proceeds from this black-tie affair will go to benefit the work of the Florida Dream Center.